Thursday, May 26, 2005

III-10 Bechukotai Creating A Personal Environment


Torah: Lv 26:3-27:34 JPS

Haftorah: Jer 16:19-17:19 JPS


1. Lv 26:3-5
2. Lv 26:6-9
3. Lv 26:10-46
4. Lv 27:1-15
5. Lv 27:16:21
6. Lv 27:22-28

7. Lv 27:29-34


Bechukotai contains a renewal of the Covenant with Israel with its conditions: a Blessing if the Israelites walk in the way of the Lord and a curse, if they do not follow the decrees and commandments. The blessing of Israel appears short (v4-11) in comparison to the Tochacha (v 14-45) or warning; but this is illusive for the blessing includes peaceful habitation, plentitude harvest, political independence and superiority over enemies and national development with sufficient base for future population growth with the assurance of God's presence in the midst. God warns that if Israel despises the statues and breaks the commandments, thereby breaking the covenant made at Sinai, the negative consequences. The positive and negative are paired in polarity, reflecting the dual nature of mankind and his personal determination of his own destiny beginning with his decision in the Garden of Eden.


"If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments, I will grant your rains in their seasons, so that the earth shall yield its produce and the trees of the field their fruit.." Lv 26:3-4

"I will establish My abode in your midst, and I will not spurn you. I will be ever present in your midst, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people." Lv 26:11-12

"If you break My laws and spurn Mr rules, so that you do not observe all My commandments and break My covenant, I will in turn do this to you..." Lv 26:15


The Tochacha is read twice a year: once during the forty-nine days of counting the Omer leading to Shavuot which commemorates the giving of the Torah and in the month of Elul before the High Holy Days, calling us to repentance, to reconsider our paths. We are accountable for our actions in the garden that we plant. God calls, "Where are you? What is this that you have done?" From the earliest of times, God warns, "But if you do not do right, sin crouches at the door; its urge is towards you, yet you can be the master."
(Gn 4:7)

The Tochacha of Bechuchotai warns against:

"keri/casualness". (26:27) "If despite this you will not heed Me, and you behave toward Me with casualness... " Rashi explains "casualness" to mean that your performance of the mitzvos will be haphazard and inconsistent. Rather than treating the mitzvos with reverence and esteem, you treat them as a matter of convenience (or inconvenience). "I too," says Hashem, "will treat you casually."

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos: Casualness and Consistency

The words of the Shma call us to action:

"Hear O Israel... You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might... Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign upon your hand and let them serve as a symbol on, your forehead, inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Dt 6:4-9 JPS

The command offers no latitude for indifference or negligence. Coordination is demanded between what is known to be right and what must be done. Our actions influence not only or own lives, but also those around us. Evil seems so much greater than good in the world, reflecting the split of positive and negative mitzvot. Of 613 mitzvot, 365 are negative-- one for each day of the year. The negatives seem always to outweigh the positive. After three weeks of grueling study, the essay is tightly written, substantiated with good references, formatted and cleanly printed or hyperlinked to the ends of the internet, but the critic finds the only pair of crossed letters or absent comma, ignoring the content and depth that the author presents. We can focus on the negative and overwhelm ourselves with it or do the positive.

The negative has immediate visible results. A student walks into a classroom and shoots the teacher. The reaction is immediate. Police arrive, students are traumatized, parents are shocked, the world responds as the consequences of the student's actions ripple across society. The pain spreads like an icy tidal wave over the area. The pain cannot be undone, the life cannot be brought back. The agony rolls outward through lives upon lives as the loss and terror is felt. The headlines flash across the newspapers and media, only to be recalled years later during criminal proceedings.

The fear of the negative freezes us to inaction. We feel helpless in the wake of natural disaster warnings, ozone holes, whale beachings, prisoner abuse scandals, political corruption. A Mormon missionary told me that she felt helpless as a teenager because of the continual barrage of environmental warnings regarding the environment. Coming from Colorado, a state environmentally conscientious, psychological pressure created a state of constant anxiety as she was inundated daily with dire predictions of hot house effects, deforestation and vanishing species. Fear cripples. Only personal action breaks the crippling grip of anxiety. By joining with others, planting flowers in public places and taking part in recycling projects, she was able to achieve the positive. Her life was changed, but not without influencing those around her. In doing the positive, the immediate results are not always seen. A teacher may never know the ultimate influence he has had upon a student, but the effects stretch beyond our immediate understanding into the future. Planting a seed may be a small thing, but it may thrive and blossom in the future bringing blessings upon others.

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld explains that for every positive mitzvot done, there is a defending angel to testify on behalf of the person before the Almighty; but for each transgression, there is also an accusing angel eager to denounce. Our actions are our witness and reflect our relationship to God, whether we sanctify or profane the name of God.

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld, Pirkei Avos
Chapter 4, Mishna 13(a): Creating Angels
"Rabbi Eliezer ben (son of) Yaakov said, one who fulfills one mitzvah
(commandment) acquires himself a single defending angel. One who commits
one transgression acquires one accusing angel. Repentance and good deeds
serve as a shield before retribution."

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld, Pirkei Avos
Chapter 4, Mishna 13(b): Repentance and a World of Love
"Rabbi Eliezer ben (son of) Yaakov said, one who fulfills one mitzvah
(commandment) acquires himself a single defending angel. One who commits
one transgression acquires one accusing angel. Repentance and good deeds
serve as a shield before retribution."

Khazak, Khazak, V'nithazek!


"If then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving the Lord your God and serving him with allow your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and late." V-4 Re-eh Dt 11:13-25

"And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them."
II-7 Terumah Ex 25:8

10 Febr II-7 Terumah Making a Sanctuary


Rabbi Shlomo Katz, Hamaayan Behar 5761
look down page for Pirkei Avos 5:23:

"Yehuda ben Tema said: Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion to carry out the will of your Father in Heaven."

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Parsha Insights Bechukotai 5757

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld, Pirkei Avos: Playing God
four kinds of Charity

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Parsha Insights Bechukotai 5758

has story of Baal Shem Tov and the two friends

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Parsha Insights Bechukotai 5760

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos: Casualness and Consistency

Rabbi Label Lam, Parsha Insight Emor 5765: A Kiddush HASHEM
"The Sefas Emes writes, “When HASHEM took us out from Egypt with wondrous
signs and by changing nature so the souls of the Children of Israel went
out from their natural realm. Therefore they are capable of giving
themselves over entirely to sanctify the Name of HASHEM in a way that goes
beyond human nature.

This by itself is a sanctification of His Name, as it is written, “You are
My witnesses, so says HASHEM!” (Isaiah 43:10) This testimony is not only
verbally transmitted but rather the Children of Israel are themselves the
living sign and testimony about HASHEM may his Name be blessed that He
renews the world and conducts the natural universe since the Children of
Israel cleave to him and they are able to transcend natural limits.”"

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, Drash-Emor: Mitzvah Vigilanté
13 May 2005 – 4 Iyar, 5765 Vol. 9 Issue 23
story of Reb Zissel and Rabbi Zelman of Chicago: Sharing a newspaper
how quietly the positive speads beyond our immediate understanding

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Lifeline, Terumah 5760
"And they shall make a Temple for Me, and I will dwell among them..." Ex 25:8


6 May III-7 Kedoshim Love Your Neighbor

5 May III-7 Kedoshim Be Ye Holy

5 May III-7 Kedoshim Be Ye Holy

5 May III-7 Kedoshim Be Ye Holy

24 Febr II-9 Ki Thisa A Golden Opportunity

24 Febr II-9 Ki Thisa A Golden Opportunity

II-7 Terumah Making a Sanctuary From Scratch 10 February 2005

II-7 Terumah Making a Sanctuary From Scratch 10 February 2005


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